Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Guess who's back, back again?


January has been cozy. I began the year with the house to myself, a welcome reprieve from company after three weeks with my family over the holidays. DC received about eight inches of snow that first weekend, and I spent it curled up on the couch with a stack of books, alone, relishing the quiet that only snowfall brings. Less than a week later we had more snow, a couple inches to cover the dirty top layer that had barely started to melt. Then a week and a half later, yet more snow. Though DC gets more snow than my native Raleigh, it's not known for it (nor for acting well in it, as the fiasco on I-95 proved). But it began the season, the new year, on a good note.

After three weeks away from home, it felt good to settle back down into routines and regular time with friends, making me glad for the thousandth time that I moved closer to the heart of the city and nearer to friends this past autumn. In the last two weeks I've spent nights eating pho at a friend's favorite spot within walking distance from my home, watching the Cowboys v Eagles game at a nearby bar, snuggling into a friend's giant couch to watch The French Dispatch while slurping jajangmyeon, laughing over Marvel movies reruns with my roommates.


Though the temperature has remained below freezing these last few weeks, I haven't felt cramped in and sad like I often do during winter. I think the abundance of windows in my home, the effort to get out and see friends despite weather conditions makes all the difference from living in an often sun-less box on the 11th floor of a giant apartment block.


In other news: I chopped off most of my hair in December. It's something I do every few years: let it grow to nearly unmanageable lengths, then chop it short to my shoulders. Every time I regret it, longing for the longer waves, hating how it settles into a frizzy bush. Yet I do it again and again. But this time, armed with a better understanding of how to handle curly hair, I cut it and loved it. I may never grow it out again. 

I'm letting the itch for newness take me in new directions. In my youth, I wanted a home library, and began amassing books for that hoped-for reality. And then at some point, my desire for freedom from belongings, the ability to move quickly and easily, and to only keep what I love and would read again, took over, and I've accumulated far, far fewer books and have steadily decimated my collection through donating/selling over the last few years. The issue has been brought top of mind again with the knowledge that I'm moving again when my lease ends in September, and I'm preemptively downsizing what I own to make the move easier. 


The downsizing of my books was the starting point for a reflective purge of belongings, but also, as we're emerging from two years of COVID world, I'm realizing that much of what I hold onto is from The Before and doesn't quite fit me anymore. And so, this month, realizing that my patterns of spending now are directly related to how much I declutter later, I instituted a month-long spending ban. It's going well; I slipped up a little this week, buying snacks out and replacing an ill-fitting pair of pants with a pair on sale. But that's $75 of "frivolous" spending for half a month, which is significantly better than usual.




I finally feel creatively inspired again. I'm writing constantly — my journal, here, a private second blog. I've tried a few new cookie recipes, my roommates acting as my eager taste testers. I'm reading Dante's Divine Comedy, slowly slowly slowly, only a few cantos a week to soak in the richness of his poetry.


A few years ago, I decided to stop posting so much online. That worked for a season, to quietly work through things on my own in a paper journal, to live life in community without capturing it in a typed paragraph. But I miss the ability to look back on what happened, to know the thread of thoughts that ran through a season, to have a public space holding a piece of myself. And so, this year I'm returning — even though blogs aren't cool anymore, even though far fewer people read this space than they used to. It's been a long time since I've banged out a 1000 word stream-of-consciousness and posted it, and it feels good.


And so, the new year begins.

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